By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer

 Andrew Whitworth’s of the Los Angeles Rams  was the Grand Marshal for the WISE Power 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana    

The National Football League’s Walter Payton Man of the Year also gave the command to start engines. It was the first race   at Auto Club Speedway since 2020.  

“It’s an incredible honor to have Andrew Whitworth join us for this special day,” said Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen. “His performance on the field is only surpassed by his character off the field.”            

While helping the RAMS defeat the Bengals in Super Bowl LVI Whitworth at age 40, became the oldest offensive lineman to start in the big game.  

“My wife Melissa is a huge NASCAR fan and one of our first dates we spent the weekend tailgating at Talladega,” said Whitworth.  “I’m not too sure if I’d fit in a race car so giving the iconic phrase is the next best thing.  We would like to thank Auto Club Speedway for having us as their special guest and we are looking forward to meeting the drivers and fans.”  

 The former Bengal played an integral role.  

However Whitworth’s work away from the gridiron has been even more impactful during a stellar 16-year NFL career. His Big Whit Homes for L.A. donates $20,000 after each Rams home game, and he works tirelessly with Southern California nonprofits to aid those facing housing insecurity.  

Teammate Matthew Stafford and wife Kelly were also there watching California native Kyle Larson win for the second time (2017).